Originally Posted: Dec 19, 2016
Last Updated: Aug 6, 2020
Most high school students start looking forward to winter break before the school year even begins, and with the holiday season in full swing, there’s never been a better time to start planning out how to make the most of those two weeks of freedom. Whether you’re prepping for college in less than a year or still getting acquainted with the ways of high school, there are plenty of options available that will help give you a head start on checking some major tasks off your to-do list. Of course, winter break is typically best spent relaxing, traveling, or celebrating. But if you want to make your break a productive one, accomplishing one or more of these tasks will get you on the right track!
Start studying for exams
For most schools, the start of the second semester immediately follows winter break, meaning that first-semester exams are far in the past once January comes around. However, some schools don’t administer exams until after winter break, giving students an adequate amount of time to get a head start on studying during the holidays. Working on review packets and study guides over the break is a great way to feel prepared once exam time comes. Even if your school holds exams prior to winter break, it’s never too early to start packing in a bit of study time for upcoming AP tests. If you can, try picking up a study book designed for your specific AP class and begin reviewing what you’ve already learned during semester one.
Study for the SAT
With another SAT test date coming up in late January, winter break is the perfect opportunity to complete plenty of preparation. You can find various study resources online, such as sample questions, official practice tests, and test-taking tips. Many of these can be found at zero cost and offer just as much guidance and assistance as any expensive test prep program. Check out websites like Khan Academy, as well as College Board’s official Daily Practice App.
Accumulate volunteer hours
Ideally, students can gain a large amount of community service hours over the course of two weeks. Aside from the typical opportunities, the holiday season presents many chances to get involved and help out within your community. Not only does volunteer service look fantastic on a résumé, but gaining the experience of helping others, particularly those in need, is a desirable asset that many colleges look for while reviewing applications. So take a look around your community and see if there are any upcoming food drives or holiday festivities in need of volunteers.
Apply for scholarships
For many students, college may be quickly approaching, though they still have no idea how to pay for it. However, scholarships are widespread and available to all kinds of students. Some scholarships may seem daunting if they come accompanied by a thousand-word essay or some other thought-provoking assignment, but spending time on them can be worth it in the long run if you’re awarded grand amounts of money designed to help you pay your way through school. Consider consulting your school’s guidance counselor to find out about local scholarships as well as researching uncommon scholarships that can be found on the internet—and scholarships can be found on CollegeXpress, obviously!
Research and visit prospective colleges
If you’re still trying to formulate your ideal college list, research and campus visits can be key to helping you home in on your top schools. Many colleges conduct scheduled campus visits during winter break, making them easy to sign up for and fit into your schedule. Attending a campus visit shows an interest in the school itself and helps students visualize what their lives could be like at the particular school.If you aren’t able to venture too far away from home for winter break, an alternative to a college visit is just a bit of Internet research on any prospective schools. You can ultimately narrow down your search by location, size, and requirements. From these results, you can plan exactly which schools you want to visit before application season begins.
Find a balance
It’s easy to just let yourself enjoy winter break after you’ve been working hard at school all fall—and you should enjoy your time! But winter breaks are long enough that you can find a good balance between enjoying yourself and being productive for the upcoming college application season. Helping others and being productive during your winter break can be more rewarding and valuable than you’d expect!
Are there any other ways you plan on being productive during break? Let us know on Twitter @CollegeXpress.